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Digital tools bring sales success in new reality

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It seems we are working our way out of the introduction phase of life during a pandemic and entering the phase where we start to adapt. The past few months have brought some sales challenges to light based on how customers want to do business moving forward: digitally. It is important to remember that your website is your digital storefront and you need to invest in the customer experience. It can feel like a lot is changing very quickly, but there are tools to help you work efficiently and effectively online. Below you will find recommendations on how to utilize some of these fundamental tools to align with your businesses needs.

Safety

The biggest concern we are hearing right now is about safety. Shoppers need to feel secure if they are going to be in a public place and need options to make a purchase if they can’t be.

Tool: Website/Facebook/Google My Business (GMB)

Application: Create a small display banner with messaging that confirms you are practicing safety and sanitation measures in stores and with all employees. Make sure people are aware before they even start shopping. Canva is a great free place to create images if you do not have someone to help you with that.

Cost: Free

Tool: Facebook Appointment Scheduler

Application: Some shoppers may request to come in during off-hours or at a time dedicated to having fewer customers in the store. Use the Facebook Appointment Scheduler to allow shoppers to set up a time they feel safe to shop. You can advertise the availability of this on Facebook and your website.

Cost: Free

Tool: Google Merchant Center

Application: Make it easier for customers to view in-stock inventory online. You can connect inventory feeds to Google Merchant Center and have products available for shopping ads in your PPC campaign. This will allow actual inventory to show on Google when shoppers are looking for a particular item.

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Cost: Free with use of PPC campaign

Tool: e-Commerce Shopping Cart

Application: Now more than ever, people want to shop online rather than coming into the store. Make it simple. We don’t want to lose customers to a store that offers this!

Cost: Varies. Check with your website provider first for options.

Inventory

An unforeseen obstacle at the beginning of COVID is the impact on inventory. It can be difficult to deliver custom furniture, and we really want to focus on what is available on the showroom floor.

Tool: Social media

Application: Create photos and videos and post them frequently! Facebook, Instagram and even GMB allow ease for sharing. All you need is a smart phone; professional content is not necessary here. Invite people to engage with your posts and encourage setting appointments to view the inventory.

Cost: Free. Boosted posts for small budgets also available.

Tool: Email

Application: Managing back orders has moved up on the priority list and communication to customers about order status is key in satisfaction. Create templates in your email to quickly pull content. Updates should be as simple as customer name, product name and expected ship date. You can also track this information in a spreadsheet and upload once a week to tools like Mail Chimp or Constant Contact to create all emails at once to save you a lot of time. Your POS may also have an email feature you can utilize in the same way.

Cost: Free. Additional tools vary depending on size of contact list.

Communication

With fewer people coming into the stores, it can be hard to have a conversation. This makes it difficult to help people find exactly what they are looking for, answer questions and address any concerns that may help you close a sale. It can also be difficult for shoppers to make decisions if they can’t see inventory in person.

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Tool: Chat

Application: Install a chat service on your website to allow your sales team to engage directly with your client base. Podium is a very popular choice in this space. These tools are simple to use and provide analytics feedback to help improve levels of service.

Cost: Varies

Tool: Video conferencing

Application: Take the conversation one step further and go live with your customers! Not only can a face-to-face conversation be more productive, but it allows you to show customers inventory to give them a better idea of what they want to purchase. This is a great option for both sales and design consultations. There are a lot of options, including Zoom, Google Meet and Join.me. Don’t be afraid to invest in a couple of tablets to make this easier on your sales team. All you need is an internet connection to make these tools work.

Cost: Many free options

Marketing

There are a lot of tools that can require an array of investment for digital marketing. Online shopping has increased more than 40 percent since the start of the year and it’s important that you have a strong presence and show in searches. Platforms include Google Ads, Facebook Ads and YouTube Ads. There are some low-to-no- cost ways you can get started to make sure you are not missing the boat completely.

Tool: Facebook Marketplace and Chat

Application: Share your inventory directly to FB. Shoppers with intent will look here and not realize there are a lot of new options within their price range. You can engage directly with your client base as well through Chat and encourage them to set an appointment.

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Cost: Free. There may be a small fee if you choose to connect an inventory feed.

Tool: GMB

Application: Did you know you can post photos of your inventory directly to the products section in GMB? You can link those photos directly to the inventory page on your website as well. These photos get a lot of views (some stores see more than 500 one just one photo in a month) and increase your SEO as well!

Cost: Free

Tool: Display

Application: Sometimes the cost of a PPC campaign can seem overwhelming, but you can utilize the Display Networks and get in front of shoppers for a much lower cost. You can target new shoppers based on their online behavior, as well as re-target shoppers who have been to your website. This should be managed by an SEM provider.

Cost: Varies depending on campaign, but you can get started for as little as $200 a month.

There are countless tools available to help you connect with your customers online. The ones listed above are a great place to start. These will help build a foundation, and from there you have the opportunity to really expand your reach and utilization. The online optimization process is ongoing, complex and ever-changing. Phelps Digital is here to help you better understand and implement these tools, so please reach out if you have questions!

[HFA Webinar: The game has changed for in-store sales]

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MARKETING

How Planning To Fail Can Succeed [Rose-Colored Glasses]

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How Planning To Fail Can Succeed [Rose-Colored Glasses]


An interesting question came up recently in a marketing group I follow on social media: “What content should we create?”

The first few comments on the post were what you might suspect. Some people encouraged the poster to interview people who fit their personas to find out what they struggle with. Others talked about getting over writer’s block. A few suggested they list every question their potential customers might have and write posts about that.

The original poster responded by acknowledging the value of these responses but clarified the question. They weren’t asking what they should write that would resonate with their target audiences. They were looking for content ideas that would drive the most reactions. Full stop.

They wanted to create controversy, provocation, and a level of virality. The theory: Do something that makes a lot of noise and inspires a boatload of people to react, then the right people will pay attention to your other content that focuses on the things you do.

Predictably, the tone of the discussion shifted into a fiery debate of the flawed notion (if not ethics) of that theory. Let’s save that discussion for a different day.

But it got me thinking. Is there a case where it makes sense to deliberately put out content you don’t like, agree with, or approve of – with the explicit goal of failing?

My answer is yes.

Is there a case where you should publish #content with the explicit goal of failing? Yes, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Why intentionally failing can be a good thing

We all know failing can be a productive result. There are entire books written on how people tend to learn more from failures than successes.

But this concept almost always gets covered in the context of failing when trying to succeed. In other words, you do your level best to accomplish something – and something in that approach failed. The lesson is that you should have done something differently.

I’m interested in what happens when you deliberately try to fail or at least try something the world deems incorrect. You either confirm what you expected or get surprised by the results.

Of course, some activities lend themselves better to this approach than others. For example, I wouldn’t try to fail while learning to fly an airplane. However, in marketing – and especially content – this approach gives you an invaluable opportunity to expand your toolkit.

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According to the book Brilliant Mistakes by Paul Schoemaker, advertising icon David Ogilvy made deliberate mistakes frequently. He would run ads that he and the client team had rejected just to test their collective thinking. Most would fail. But a few, including the iconic eye patch Hathaway shirt ad – would become legendary campaigns.

Think about making time, money, or content available to test your core instincts. I don’t mean running a simple A/B test to evaluate two good efforts. That only determines which one resonates better.

I’m suggesting that you try a content piece that poses an idea you flat-out rejected. Or try investing in a channel that from every angle seems to be wrong. For example, later this month, I’m going to try TikTok. I’m 99.9% sure I will fail spectacularly.

What if you invest in a channel that from every angle seems wrong? Soon, @Robert_Rose will try on #TikTok via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

But what if I’m wrong?

There’s a famous quote attributed to IBM founder Thomas J. Watson: If you want to increase your success rate, double your failure rate.” It seems to me there’s only one mathematical way to double your failure rate – and that’s if you occasionally deliberately try to fail.

How to fail on purpose

A friend and I had a funny saying we used to tell each other whenever we failed a test at school. We’d say, “I’d rather get a zero than a 59.”

Why? Because getting 59 means we tried and still failed.

Of course, we weren’t saying no one should ever try. We were being silly teenagers.

In content marketing, we know the value of tests and experimentation. However, most testing is done to confirm an initial assumption. In fact, a core piece of an A/B test is to form a hypothesis first. You have a suspected or proven winner, and you test an alternative version to see if it performs better.

Making a deliberate mistake is a bit different. In these are experiments, you assume you’re going to fail.

What could be the value of doing that?

Well, there can be two valuable outcomes. One is that you confirm your assumption of failure and learn something. The other is that you succeed (in other words, you fail at failing) and that long-shot effort might pay off handsomely. Even if it doesn’t, you’ve learned something.

If you make a deliberate mistake and succeed, you not only learn something, but the takeaway could pay off handsomely, says @Robert_Rose via @CMIContent. #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

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There are different flavors of deliberate mistakes. One of my favorites was made by a vice president of marketing at a big B2B company. Over the years, they had accumulated tens of thousands of subscribers to their email newsletter. Every week they would dutifully email almost 90,000 newsletters, and every week, the engagement rates were extremely low.

So, the vice president did something interesting. He sent a large segment of the subscribed but disengaged audience an email with the subject line: Sorry to See You Go.

In the body of the email, the copy told the recipient the company was sorry they’d unsubscribed from the newsletter. But, the text continued, if they thought this unsubscribe might be in error, they could respond by clicking through to a survey.

This move was clearly a deliberate mistake. Certainly most, if not all, of these subscribers wouldn’t engage with the email. But their marketing team decided it was worth making the mistake and risk losing 30,000-plus subscribers to see if they had any shot with this unengaged audience.

The result? About 60% never responded or clicked and got officially unsubscribed from the newsletter. But 40% clicked and responded, “No, this was a mistake.” They hadn’t unsubscribed. For a while, this email had the highest click-through rate.

One other surprising result? Among those who responded, about 10% indicated they were interested in subscribing to a different topic addressed by the company.

The vice president of marketing told me, “We learned a lot from that ‘mistake.’”

There are a few key moments when deliberate mistakes might make sense for your content marketing:

1. There’s less to lose

Obviously, risk plays a role in how big a mistake you should deliberately make. Skydiving, for example, isn’t the best activity where an intentional mistake is likely to pay off. You don’t want to publish a content piece completely off-brand, run afoul of legal or compliance issues, or really offend your audience. But like the vice president of marketing at that B2B company. What could they lose other than a third of the email database that wasn’t engaging anyway?

2. Rigid, institutional rules

When you intentionally make a mistake, it will more likely go your way when the mistake goes against an institutional rule or rigid, outdated convention. A great example of this is the marketing for the movie Deadpool. It was, by most counts, a campaign filled with deliberate mistakes. Perhaps the biggest was its outdoor billboard campaign with a pictogram of a skull, a poop emoji, and the letter “L” with the premiere date. Adweek called the campaign “so stupid, it’s genius.”

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Billboard containing a skull, poop emoji, and letter L.

How about that rule that says never publish blog posts on the weekend? Everybody says it doesn’t work, and publishing on those days is a mistake. Why not make that “mistake” and see what happens?

3. You are the newbie

An optimal time to make a deliberate mistake is when you’re new to a particular problem or challenge. It’s when your audience, customers, or colleagues are most likely to forgive your mistake – and then, of course, you can refer to the first moment above.

One of my good friends has been the CMO of several startup companies. He told me that when he joins a new company, he goes on a “listening tour” to hear from the practitioners. He often introduces a marketing newbie mistake into the conversation to see if a practitioner will push back, correct it, or just go with the flow. Certainly, he risks coming across as inexperienced. But, he says, what’s more important is that they start on equal footing, and he can start a dialogue with his new colleague.

Failing to fail to fail

Of course, not every deliberate mistake will end up with a successful outcome. Sometimes, after all, a mistake is a mistake – and deliberately making it will get you exactly what you asked for.

There is only one thing that’s assured: If you only fail when we’re trying not to, you may just miss out on proof you should trust your initial instincts.

Get Robert’s take on content marketing industry news in just three minutes:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

Rose-Colored Glasses is a new weekly column in which Robert Rose shares his view of content marketing challenges. Every Friday, he offers reasoning, rationale, and rhetoric to help you advance the practice of content marketing in your organization.

Subscribe to workday or weekly CMI emails to get Rose-Colored Glasses in your inbox each week.

 
Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute





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Top 11 Payment Processing Companies in 2022

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Top 11 Payment Processing Companies in 2022


Which payment processing companies should you choose for your business? Many business leaders struggle with this question. After all, payment gateway and digital payment can be fierce, especially if you are not a regular user.

With dozens of companies offering credit card processing and online payment solutions to choose from, it will be difficult for merchants to make decisions.

Here, we’ve compiled a list of the industry’s leading payment companies to help you decide.


Table of Content


List of 11 payment processing companies with their pros & cons

  • Helcim
  • GETTRX
  • Paypal
  • Stripe
  • Adyen
  • Payline
  • 2checkout
  • Authorize.net
  • Paymentcloud
  • Clover
  • Alipay

How to pick a payment gateway

FAQs

Conclusion

Helcim is one of the top competitors in the payments gateway market. It enables merchants and sellers to grow their businesses with hassle-free payment processing solutions.

Pros

  • Hassle-free to use
  • No monthly fee
  • Quick and convenient for customers

Cons

  • Complex user interface
  • Not suitable for high-risk industries

GETTRX is a best-in-class gateway. So whether you have an eCommerce platform or online shop with Edgepay, you can choose the right integration for your business.

Pros

  • Customized POS options
  • Secure online payments
  • Non-profit solutions

Cons

NA

PayPal allows access to millions of PayPal sellers and merchants for payment processing. It is a market player of some of the world’s most prominent digital merchants, including Airbnb and Uber.

Pros

  • Fast, hassle-free setup
  • Offers mobile wallet options in-store
  • No monthly fees or contracts

Cons

  • Not suited for a high volume of transactions
  • It doesn’t have 24/7 phone support

Stripe has been one of the renowned payment gateways in the market for a decade. Transparent fee structure, smooth integration with all major e-commerce systems, and easy-to-use interface have been essential factors in helping Stripe become one of the top options for customers.

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Stripe enables you to manage one-off payments, invoice on a recurring basis, or even handle in-person payments.

Stripe also ensures payment processing security and securely saves all credit card numbers and transaction details (using good AES-256 encryption keys).

Pros

  • Hundreds of integrations with business software
  • Custom pricing available
  • Accepts all mobile wallet payments

Cons

  • High-risk businesses must wait seven days for payment
  • Phone support upon request
  • Fraudulent activity may result in a hold on your funds

Adyen enables you to accept every payment made to your company from a single platform and provides you tools to manage risk and track results.

Adyen accepts more than 150 global currencies and 250 payment methods. Further, it lets you analyze transaction data to benefit from “data-rich insights.”

Pros

  • Ensure smooth streamline process
  • Ensure managing risk

Cons

  • No support for PayPal payments
  • Mixed reviews on functionality

Payline has been in the payment gateway business for a decade. It offers transparent fees and a fruitful interchange-plus pricing model.

It is a custom payment gateway that allows you to set things up like recurring payments or other non-standard payment schemes. Also, it provides mobile solutions designed to accept payments via mobile apps.

Pros

  • User-friendly interface
  • The transparent interchange-plus pricing model

Cons

2checkout offers services in over 180 countries. It provides a comprehensive solution to ensure the payment process seamlessly. Also, it will let you access an advanced platform where you can manage your business’ finances and e-commerce efforts.

Pros

  • Good customer support
  • Robust API

Cons

  • Slow process
  • Need improvement in security protection

Authorize.Net is a recognizable and oldest payment gateway operating on the web. It has made the payment process hassle-free for businesses of any kind to accept payments on the web and in person.

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As per your business needs, you can use Authorize.Net to issue invoices, set up recurring payments, and simplify the checkout process.

Pros

  • Ensure smooth streamline process
  • Ensure managing risk

Cons

  • No support for PayPal payments
  • Mixed reviews on functionality

PaymentCloud supports various customer bases and offers solutions for eCommerce stores and other online business needs. Since high-risk companies face many barriers, they ensure the process seamlessly mitigates security risk.

Pros

  • Fast application approval
  • Easy to set up
  • Next day funding
  • Dedicated account manager

Cons

  • No pricing information on the website
  • Pricing varies by risk
  • May face early termination fees

Clover offers an extensive range of POS systems that work with its credit card processing service. It processes payments using its own POS systems. In addition, it provides four credit card processing plans: Register, Register Lite, Table-Service Restaurant, and Counter-Service Restaurant.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Smooth processing

Cons

  • Complex dashboard
  • Customer service needs improvement

Alipay is a popular payment platform launched by Alibaba and has grown as an Eastern payments player. It can process payments through online, mobile, and in-store channels. The company claims over 1 billion users.

Pros

  • Real-time monitoring
  • Risk management

Cons

  • Stores detailed transaction history of users
  • Average reviews on functionality

How to Pick a Payment Gateway

Let’s find out what to look for in a payment gateway;

  • Does the gateway support your eCommerce platform?
  • Do you need more than one payment gateway?
  • What features do you need, specifically?
  • Does the payment gateway support the payment methods your customer base uses?
  • What fees are acceptable?
  • Does the provider have a good reputation?
  • Are you in a high-risk business?
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Does a Payment Gateway Work?

Payment gateways enable buyers and merchants (and their banks) to carry out transactions digitally. For example, after swiping a card, the payment gateway makes sure the card is authentic, makes sure that they have enough money to cover the transaction, and lets the customer know if the purchase is accepted or declined.

What is the Difference Between Payment Gateways and Payment Processors?

Payment gateways and payment processors are alike because they connect the merchant’s and customer’s banks. However, payment gateways can identify that the cardholder is who they say they are, while payment processors alone cannot.

Do I need a Payment Gateway?

Payment gateways used to be beneficial for eCommerce stores, but today they are a short-term necessity for almost all businesses. Especially after the covid-19 impact, people started considering digital payments and e-commerce and the declining usage of cash payments.

Over to You!

So, these are a few popular payment processing companies out there. Some companies have great advantages over others and do the required work seamlessly. Before choosing any of these options, ensure to consider their pros and cons to determine if they can match your business needs.



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How Your Company’s Attrition Rate Could Be Impacting Your Business

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How Your Company's Attrition Rate Could Be Impacting Your Business


Happy employees are the key to a successful business. According to the University of Oxford, happy employees are 13% more productive. High employee satisfaction can go a long way towards your bottom line.

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